A 17-year-old Parisian lady of Algerian parentage struggles to barter the conflicting tensions between need, familial expectation, peer strain and heritage in debuting writer-director Kamir Aïnouz’s intermittently profitable “Honey Cigar.” Refreshingly empowering in the way it foregrounds the feminine gaze along with the younger lady’s possession of her sexual urges, the movie too usually falls again on paper-thin characterizations that journey up the director’s bold try to provide equal voice to a mélange of weighty private and political points. Whereas the core concepts are sound and Zoé Adjani’s charismatic efficiency imbues these concepts with a soul, the unexceptional screenplay flounders in its try to make every challenge equally actual and multifaceted. Francophone territories will probably account for the lion’s share of the movie’s income, along with feminist showcases.
Aïnouz, half-sister of Brazilian-Algerian director Karim Aïnouz, mines parts of her personal life for the story, set in 1993 when Algeria was experiencing a surge of Islamist violence. Selma Merabet (Adjani) lives along with her dad and mom (Amira Casar and Lyes Salem) within the upscale Paris suburb Neuilly-sur-Seine. Dad’s a lawyer and mother’s a skilled gynecologist, although she’s put that on maintain to boost her daughter and tackle all of the hostess duties anticipated of their social circle. Selma has simply been accepted by a aggressive business-oriented highschool the place the ultra-cool, sexually skilled college students make her really feel she’s bought plenty of catching as much as do. A mutual attraction with self-confident Julien (Louis Peres) spurs her to one-up his degree of flirtation.
First she has to do away with her virginity, so prized by her dad and mom however for her the roadblock to coming into her personal as a girl. The self “deflowering” — a phrase she hates — comes courtesy of a cucumber in a scene commendable for its lack of sensationalism: The act isn’t nice, however it’s one thing to get out of the best way shortly so she will transfer on. Her dad and mom haven’t a clue what’s occurring; they’re outwardly French subtle (notice the Christmas tree regardless of being Muslim) however inwardly deeply conventional, right down to occasional organized dinners for Selma to satisfy applicable potential mates.
At first she doesn’t know emotionally deal with Julien’s remedy of intercourse as a enjoyable pastime to boast about, and it’s really easy to place your foot flawed when wanting to slot in with a brand new crowd. Her dad and mom’ more and more contentious relationship coupled with an onerous curfew make house life now not the secure haven it was when she was youthful, and so as to add additional strain, the information from Algeria will not be encouraging. Selma is pleased with her heritage and fast to claim that delight in opposition to the informal racism of her friends; her longing to go to her homeland is extra difficult now although, and her dad and mom are divided in how they gauge the hazard of a return.
The screenplay’s main weak spot is its uncertainty with what to do with the dad and mom, who lurch from one dimension to a different with none nuance to bridge the stereotypes. Aïnouz is aware of what she needs to convey, however the dialogue is weak and the mom particularly is lowered to a simplistic caricature of a professionally unfulfilled harpy immediately reworked as soon as she makes a deeper connection along with her daughter. A disturbing, nonconsensual encounter between Selma and Luka (Idir Chender), a banker and her dad and mom’ ideally suited selection for a son-in-law, is properly completed but leaves no residue, offered as if rape is a type of unlucky issues a younger lady should be taught to push apart and transfer on.
Conserving the digicam near Selma always helps with our identification and additionally conveys a level of claustrophobia that ties in along with her must discard the strictures of household life and broaden her horizons. This modifications considerably within the final third when Selma and her mom go to their hometown of Tizi Ouzou: the movie’s visuals shift from darkish or golden-hued Parisian interiors to the limpid blue mountain air of the Kabylie area, the place a sense of feminine solidarity provides each mom and daughter succor. Albertine Lastera’s enhancing, normally so sharp and rhythmical, is uncharacteristically lackluster, however way more deserving of criticism is the music, particularly the vocalizing throughout masturbation scenes.